My time in Inis Mór came to an end all too soon and on the Thursday morning of my week on the Aran Islands we boarded a boat for the middle island, Inis Meain. It was a short 20 minute journey before we found ourselves on an island very similar, yet very different to the one we’d just left.
On alighting from our boat ‘The Happy Hooker’ we were left on the pier alone and as the boat left we felt our first sense of isolation from the rest of the world. We were the only three people who got off the boat, I later discovered there was only five other tourists staying on the island that night. We quickly checked into our B&B before setting off to explore this much smaller island.
While in many ways it was similar to Inis Mór with it’s stone walls and monuments, the feeling there is completely different. Everything is so much closer together and so we easily wandered between the various attractions of old stone cottages, churches and forts. Since the island is so small compared we could see the sea no matter where we were and the gentle crashing of the waves made a relaxing background melody to our walk.
Being that the island is all but tourist-free we often sat down and just appreciated the beauty of the island. We’d brought a picnic with us and so we were able to sit and eat it on a beach we shared with no one else. It was so unusual to be on a beach with the sun shining but not to have other people there with us, I can imagine Inis Meain being the perfect place for a retreat.
We finished up our day on Inis Meain by walking to Dún Chonchúir, the ring fort at the highest point on the island, unlike the climbs of the pervious days it was a much easier walk and we found ourselves at the fort in no time. We had it to ourselves and as we looked we could see all of the island spread out in all directions around us, it’s only then that we appreciated how tiny the island is, a limestone rock in the Atlantic dotted with a spiderweb of walls.
The following morning we had a bit of time to wander around before our Ferry off the island, so we went for a short walk to the sea and watched it for a bit in the morning breeze. Having one last look around us before we got on board our final ferry of the week.
Overall Inis Meain was a completely different different experience to the other islands, the islanders themselves will admit that it’s not an island that caters to tourists so the sense of isolation really never leaves you. It’s beauty though is outstanding and being that it’s so quiet, you can appreciate it all the more. We were on the island for exactly 24 hours and I felt like we’d senn everything there was to see, some of it twice, if retreats aren’t your thing (and they aren’t mine!) it’d be the perfect day trip.
My final blog from the Aran Islands of Inis Oírr will be live next Sunday and my photos from Inis Meain are on my flickr.